Five well-known religious liberty advocates have written a letter to the Saudi Ambassador to the United States, calling on the Saudi government to put a halt to the “grave injustice” of the public scourging of Raif Badawi, convicted of blasphemy, and offering to each receive 100 lashes of Badawi’s sentence in his place.
Badawi, a 30-year-old blogger and freedom of expression activist, has already received the first 50 lashes of a total of one thousand to which he was sentenced for having equated different religions in an article he posted.
Breitbart News has obtained a copy of the letter, which bears the signatures of the five advocates, all of whom are members of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom: Princeton Law Professor Robert P. George, Harvard Law Professor Mary Ann Glendon, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, Daniel I. Mark, who teaches political science at Villanova University, and Katrina Lantos Swett, President of The Lantos Foundation.
In their letter, the five signatories remark on having seen “officials representing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia” participating in the recent March in Paris to protest the “brutal murders committed in the name of Islam.”
They note that the March was a demonstration in support of human rights and civil liberties, including “the liberty to criticize religion.” The Saudi presence, they said, was an important statement about “basic rights and liberties enshrined in international covenants and agreements to which the Kingdom has, to its credit, subscribed.”
And yet, the authors say, “we note with sorrow that in the Kingdom itself Raif Badawi stands condemned under rules that flagrantly violate these human rights and civil liberties and is being subjected to an unspeakably cruel punishment of 1000 lashes.”
“We call on the government of the Kingdom to put a halt to this grave injustice,” they write.
“We are persons of different faiths, yet we are united in a sense of obligation to condemn and resist injustice and to suffer with its victims, if need be,” the letter reads.
“We therefore make the following request. If your government will not remit the punishment of Raif Badawi, we respectfully ask that you permit each of us to take 100 of the lashes that would be given to him,” they say.
The letter concludes: “We would rather share in his victimization than stand by and watch him being cruelly tortured. If your government does not see fit to stop this from happening, we are prepared to present ourselves to receive our share of Mr. Badawi’s unjust punishment.”
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome